26 Pieces

“I’m shocked that you would suggest such a thing.” Sherlock pulled open the door to the restaurant, his smile deepening. “After you.”

John walked inside, scanning the faces of the diners. There weren’t many; it was early yet and the place was half empty. Nothing seemed amiss. John’s observations were cut short by Angelo, coming toward them with open arms.

“There they are! My favorite couple!”

John stifled a sigh.

Sherlock allowed himself to be hugged. “Our usual table, Angelo?”

“Yes, yes, of course, the window table! Where you had your first date. Such a romantic.” Angelo led them to the table, beaming. John suppressed a smile. What a world Angelo must inhabit, if Sherlock Holmes was considered a romantic. “Another case, yes?”

Sherlock took his seat with an indulgent expression. “Tell me how you knew.”

“You do not look hungry. Your boyfriend does. I notice these things. Ah, the candle!” Angelo disappeared, snapping his fingers at the waitress to alert her to the new customers.

John slid into his chair and stared out the window, looking for their admirers in the darkening street.

“The man across the street in the red scarf who’s been tying his shoe for the past minute and a half,” Sherlock said in a dry tone. “And the one in the hideous jumper and mismatched socks who is pacing past Angelo’s door for the third time.”

John nodded, managing not to tell Sherlock how bloody amazing he was. He watched the purple and green jumper pass by with considerable bemusement. “Not exactly trying to be unobtrusive, are they? I would have thought—”

“You don’t correct him anymore,” Sherlock said softly.

John glanced at him, startled. “Angelo?”

“Yes.”

“No point.”

“You don’t mind?”

“I never minded. I’m just not your date, that’s all.”

Sherlock’s eyebrows rose. “You took pains to introduce yourself to Sebastian as my colleague, as I recall.”

John felt the heat rise to his face. It had been almost a year; he’d hoped Sherlock had forgotten. He should have known better. His hands twitched at the memory; even now, nothing would please him more than to wring that sorry bugger’s neck. “I never said sorry for that, did I?”

“You never needed to.”

“I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. Something about him…unnerved me.” That was true enough.

Sherlock frowned. “Sebastian? He’s relatively harmless. Certainly not someone I’d have expected to unsettle you.”

They were now in perilous territory. Sherlock was in an unusually communicative mood tonight. “I suppose he reminded me of someone I used to know. A small-minded sadistic bastard, to be honest, and—”

“And you wanted to avoid receiving any of his sadistic attentions?”

“I wanted to avoid you receiving any of his sadistic attentions. As it turns out, I didn’t do very well.”

“Oh. That’s…” Sherlock seemed genuinely surprised. “You thought I’d be affected by anything Sebastian Wilkes said?”

The memory of Sherlock’s expression during that conversation rose before John’s mind’s eye. Hell, yes, I did and I do. And I’ll bloody well kick his arse if I get half a chance. “I didn’t know you very well, did I?”

Angelo arrived with the candle, a bottle of wine and two glasses. “On the house, on the house.” He winked at them and hurried off in the direction of the kitchen.

 

Source: http://archiveofourown.org/works/244826

 

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2 thoughts on “26 Pieces

  1. This passage interested me because it presented a queer date in which both partners exhibited both typically masculine and feminine roles. Sherlock begins the scene by opening the door for John. Opening the door is a typically masculine gesture that suggests a gentleman. Similarly, when they are greeted by the host, Angelo, the gender roles are switched as Sherlock takes on the feminine role. Sherlock addresses John’s response to Angelo referring to John as Sherlock’s boyfriend. He brings up an interaction with Sebastian where John addressed Sherlock as his colleague. Playing the protective masculine role, John claims he wanted to keep Sherlock from experiencing Sebastian’s sadistic comments. When Sherlock asks John if he thought he would be affected by something Sebastian said, John (in his head) replies “Hell, yes, I did and I do. And I’ll bloody well kick his arse if I get half a chance”. This innate protectiveness over his partner gives him masculine qualifications.
    The ambiguity of Sherlock and John’s gender performances challenge their typical portrayal. At the beggining, it looks as though John is the feminine figure in the relationship while the door opening Sherlock is the masculine. By reversing these roles within the scene, the assumed feminine and masculine gender roles disappear. I think this is a very interesting aspect of the queer relationship because each partner can perform either gender without the presumption that they are stepping out of their role.

  2. Sherlock and John’s conversation about how their relationship is perceived by others reminded me of an interview I read back when the show first aired. In the interview Sherlock writer Steven Moffat said, “It’s just that thing of two blokes hanging around together living together – in this nice modern world it leads to people saying, ‘Oh, are they a couple?’ And that’s nice. I thought how the world has changed, there is no disapproval.” This comment reminded me of something Judith Butler wrote, that gender is a “historical situation, rather than a natural fact,” and the body is something that humanity has learned to interpret through certain “cultural and historical possibilities.” While not talking strictly about gender, how Sherlock and John’s relationship and corresponding sexualities are perceived is dependent on the gender norms of their time period. In the original Sherlock Holmes’ stories, their relationship is much the same. However, in the context of the 19th century, their relationship is not viewed as queer or anything but strictly homosocial friendship. The societal expectations for the boundaries of male friendship included intimate male friendships, and bachelors sharing a house or apartment was not uncommon. Today, the backlash against any perceived femininity begun in the 1930s means that the same relationship is viewed as queer. Extremely close friendships between men are no longer seen as normal, flatshares among men past college age are much less common, and the increasing awareness of homosexuality means that even mundane acts like eating dinner together at a restaurant are viewed through that lens and assumptions are made. The relationship (and gender presentation) stayed the same, but the context and thus the meaning of the performance did not.

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